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Recent research shows the extend of misdiagnosis and bad outcomes

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

Seeking medical care is the wise thing to do when Floridians are experiencing symptoms or are just not feeling well. When visiting a physician, there is a basic expectation that the medical issue will be discerned and the proper treatment administered. That is true whether it is something serious or not. If there is a misdiagnosis, it can cause innumerable problems including long-term damage and death.

Researchers are vigilant about the causes of misdiagnosis and which illnesses and outcomes frequently fall into this category. People who believe they or a loved one have been victimized by a medical mistake stemming from being wrongly diagnosed and given the wrong treatment or no treatment should be cognizant of the steps necessary to file a medical malpractice claim. A recently released research project has shined a light on just how prevalent this problem is. It happens more often with certain illnesses. The study focused on the top three diseases or conditions across the nation that cause the most damage. These three – cancer, infections and vascular events – are involved in almost 50% of diagnostic mistakes.

Using 28 studies and 91,000 patients, they divided the most common events and the frequency with which they were misdiagnosed into groups of five. The cancers were prostate, melanoma, colorectal, breast and lung. The top five infections were endocarditis, pneumonia, spinal abscess, meningitis/encephalitis and sepsis. Vascular events were strokes, myocardial infarction (heart attack), thromboembolism in the veins and arteries, and aneurysm in the aorta.

Some issues were more frequently misdiagnosed than others. For example, those with a spinal abscess were misdiagnosed more than 62% of the time. Heart attack misdiagnosis happened in just over 2%. The amount of harm people suffered also varied with nearly 36% being damaged if the spinal abscess was misdiagnosed and 1.2% for heart attack. Still, 85 of those whose heart attack was misdiagnosed had a permanent disability or died after it occurred. For every 20 people who were misdiagnosed in these categories, one suffered permanent health problems or died.

Researchers believe that if a medical issue is seen less often by medical professionals, it has a greater propensity for misdiagnosis. Medical professionals see many people suffering from the symptoms of myocardial infarction and will therefore be able to recognize it more easily and provide appropriate treatment. A prominent concern goes beyond the misdiagnoses and extends to the failure to address the systemic faults that lead to these mistakes. Improving technical aspects of diagnosing patients when they first show symptoms can help with better outcomes. Medical professionals who resist change in how they treat patients should be encouraged to be more flexible by emphasizing teamwork, training, technology and accepting feedback.

People put inherent trust in medical professionals expecting there to be an aboveboard attempt to treat the person’s illness or condition effectively. That starts with diagnosing it accurately. If there is a misdiagnosis, the subsequent treatment can be ineffective and wrong and cause more problems such as permanent injury and death. An investigation may be central to a legal filing and successful claim for compensation. Evidence must be accrued, experts will be needed to analyze the case and other factors will be critical. Contacting an experienced law firm that has handled many medical malpractice claims due to misdiagnosis and the damage it can cause may be integral to a successful lawsuit.


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